Robinson's career game helps Jaguars finally win
Oct. 20, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Denard Robinson finished the sentence quicker than he hit holes.
When asked whether his 127-yard rushing performance on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns was more special because of the opponent, Robinson chimed in "because it came against a team from Ohio?"
"Yeah, that was good to do it against an Ohio team," said Robinson, a former star quarterback at Michigan who grew to dislike rival Ohio State during his four years in Ann Arbor.
Robinson's career day helped the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Browns 24-6, snap a nine-game losing streak, and win for the first time this season.
It also provided some validation for Robinson, who is in his first full season as a full-time running back.
"It just comes down to working hard," he said. "Everybody helped me become a running back."
The Jaguars (1-6) selected Robinson in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, essentially taking a flyer on a productive college player who didn't seem to fit an NFL position.
Jacksonville tried Robinson at receiver and returner — his hands proved to be an issue early on — before eventually putting him in the backfield.
"I didn't know how to do it, how to make the right steps, how to block a guy or anything like that," he said. "I had to work on how to get the ball in the backfield because I was used to getting the ball from the gun.
"It's a big difference, but I've just got to work harder."
Jacksonville began the day ranked last in the NFL in rushing, averaging 69.5 yards a game. With starter Toby Gerhart (foot) out for the second consecutive week, Robinson got the start.
And he got the majority of the carries (22), including an 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The Browns (3-3) played without nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin, and Jacksonville took advantage by getting Robinson in holes between the tackles.
"I want to show people that I'm not just a scat back," he said. "I want to be that 215-pounder that can run the ball and do different things."
Maybe it should have been expected. Even though Robinson went 1-3 against the Buckeyes, he ran for 292 yards and three touchdowns in his final two games in the revered rivalry.
"Man, he's a player," Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel said. "He did a lot of great things. We tried to get him in space, and he even made space sometimes. He's an explosive guy and can make guys miss."
Aside from Robinson's success, here are five things to know about Sunday's game:
MISSING MACK: The Browns missed Pro Bowl center Alex Mack maybe even more than they envisioned. Without Mack in the lineup for the first time in his six-year career, Cleveland ran 30 times for a season-low 69 yards. "When you don't have the best center in the NFL, you have someone that's less than the best," left tackle Joe Thomas said. "But if we had played to our standard, I think we would have been OK."
ROOKIE MISTAKES: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles continues to make rookie mistakes. Bortles threw a career-high three interceptions in the victory, but the Browns managed just three points off those turnovers. Bortles has 10 interceptions and five TD passes in five games. "I've got to improve," he said. "I'm not happy with the way I played, but I'm extremely happy with the outcome of the game."
HOYER HOUNDED: With a mostly nonexistent ground game, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was hurried and harassed into several poor throws and a few mistakes. Hoyer lost a fumble that led to a field goal in the third quarter and threw an interception in the fourth. He completed 16 of 41 passes for 215 yards, perhaps rekindling the debate about how long first-round pick Johnny Manziel will stay on the sideline.
IMPROVING DEFENSE: Jacksonville's defense is on the rise. The unit has allowed just two touchdowns in the last three games while averaging 310 yards. The Jaguars were at their best in the red zone against Cleveland, holding the Browns to two field goals in two trips inside the 20-yard line.
MOMENTUM SWING: Jacksonville turned the game late in the second quarter with a fourth-down stop at the 24-yard line. The Browns oddly opted to throw on fourth-and-1, but didn't convert. Jacksonville needed just three plays to go 76 yards the other way. So instead of heading into the locker room up 9-0 or maybe 13-0, the Browns trailed 7-6.